AMD FX-8150 8-Core CPU Review: Bulldozer Is Here

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Performance Summary: Summarizing the new AMD FX-8150’s performance is somewhat difficult for a number of reasons. Generally speaking, the FX-8150 is the fastest desktop processor AMD has released to date. In the majority of our tests, the FX-8150 was able to outrun the company’s previous flagship desktop CPU, the six-core Phenom II X6 1100T, and sometimes by a wide margin, as we saw in someof our game tests and in PCMark Vantage’s Communication benchmark. In a handful of tests, however, the 8-core FX-8150 actually trailed the lower-clocked, 6-Core Phenom II 1100T due to lower single-threaded performance or potential scheduling issues with Windows 7 (which will likely be resolved with Windows 8). Looking back at the numbers, it's clear the FX is better suited to highly parallel workloads, although its advantages over Phenom in this area vary. In comparison to Intel’s processors, the AMD FX-8150 performed right about on par with the quad-core Core i5-2500K. The Core i5-2500K was faster than the FX in our encoding tests, some of the game tests, and in most of the PCMark Vantage tests. Whereas the FX took the lead in PCMark7’s Entertainment benchmark, a couple of game tests, and in Cinebench. Versus higher-end Intel processors like the Core i7-2600K or i7-970, however, the FX generally couldn’t compete. It should also be noted that the FX-8150 consumed considerably more power than Intel’s current Sandy Bridge-based processors too. At this point it’s clear that Intel maintains not only a performance lead, but a significant advantage in power efficiency as well.


8-Core FX Series Processor Die

AMD will be launching four FX series processors today, the flagship 125W FX-8150 we’ve shown you here, along with another a lower-clocked, 125W 8-core chip dubbed the FX-8120, a 95W 6-core processor called the FX-6100, and finally the 95w quad-core FX-4100. Pricing, TDP, frequencies (both stock and Turbo), and core counts are listed in the chart below. (In case it wasn’t apparent, the first digit in the model number denotes core count.)


AMD FX Series Processors Available At Launch

For the die-hard AMD fans that have been waiting for this day since the company first started hinting at Bulldozer, the performance exhibited by this first batch of FX series processors is probably somewhat puzzling. This was supposed to be the architecture that propelled AMD back into a strong, competitive position versus Intel’s desktop processors. Alas, that is obviously not the case. The FX-8150 is very competitive with Intel’s upper-mainstream Core i5 processors, but the Core i7 remains the ultimate performance champion. No if, ands, or buts about it.

With that said, AMD still has a good product on its hands with the FX series. Performance is good; in some workloads the processor significantly outpaces the previous-gen Phenom II. And while it’s true that in some areas the Phenom II can still be faster, the Phenom II’s margin of victory is generally small. Although we didn’t have time to test it for ourselves just yet, performance improvements should be coming with future versions of Windows as tweaks are made to the scheduler to better utilize the resources afforded by the Bulldozer microarchitecture. As more software is optimized for the FX series, it’s architectural and feature enhancements (like XOR, AVX, etc.) should afford it a big edge over previous-generation processors as well.

Ultimately, although AMD wasn’t able to overtake Intel with the FX series, this launch is important for the company. It has been over a decade since AMD has completely redesigned its desktop processors. And the company needed a more forward-looking microarchitecture to lay the foundation for the future. Bulldozer may not have been able to put AMD back into the leadership position it was in when the original Athlon and Athlon 64 processors hit the scene, but it may be the launching pad AMD needs to better tweak and optimize its desktop processors moving forward in preparation for the Piledriver, Steamroller, and Excavator microarchitectures AMD has slated for release over the next few years, all of which are reported to offer IPC and frequency ehancements that will increase performance.

  • Good MT Performance
  • 8-Cores, 32nm Process
  • Fairly Overclockable
  • Affordably Priced

 

  • Consumed More Power Than 45nm Phenom II
  • Intel Still Offers Better Overall Performance and Power
  • Questionable Single Thread Performance

 

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